The scene at Red Gate Woods looks like an eco-disaster but it’s actually the result of invasive shrub removal. (Patty Wetli / WTTW News)

A 1,000-acre, $10 million restoration project is now underway at Red Gate Woods, part of the vast Palos Preserve system in southwestern Cook County.

Arnold Randall in a “Chicago Tonight” interview that aired Oct. 18, 2022. (WTTW News)
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From catching walleye to bringing restoration work out of the dark ages to passage of a groundbreaking tax hike, Arnold Randall reflects on his 13 years as general superintendent of the Forest Preserve District of Cook County.

Arnold Randall appears on "Chicago Tonight" on Nov. 10, 2022. (WTTW News)
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Arnold Randall has announced he will step down at the end of the year as general superintendent of the Forest Preserve District of Cook County, a position he's held since 2010.

Prescribed burn in Cook County. (Kelly Bougher / Forest Preserve District of Cook County)

Forest preserve districts across the region are in the middle of fire season — not combatting them, but setting them. 

River Park, Chicago. (Patty Wetli / WTTW News)

The fall foliage season got off to a slow start in the Chicago region but is making up for lost time. We’ve rounded up some resources to help you make the most of Mother Nature’s spectacular, but short-lived, autumnal display.

A ribbon-cutting ceremony for the completed restoration project was held on Oct. 23, 2023. (Nicole Cardos / WTTW News)

A major effort to restore nearly 200 acres of wetland habitat at Powderhorn Prairie and Marsh Nature Preserve on the Chicago’s Southeast Side is now complete after more than three years.

Pond at Sand Ridge Nature Center, a Cook County Forest Preserve in the Calumet region. (Patty Wetli / WTTW News)
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"For the first time in a long time, it is not the budget of an agency in a holding pattern, keeping long-term, pressing needs at bay," Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle said. "For Fiscal Year 2024, we are moving forward."

Trail maps are available at the forest preserve district's various nature centers. (Patty Wetli / WTTW News)

When people veer off designated trails, they damage vegetation, compact soil, contribute to erosion and also create pathways for new invasive plant species.

Spring Lake Forest Preserve, Cook County. (Patty Wetli / WTTW News)

Created back in 1994, the day is meant to celebrate the connection between people and the green space in their community. 

Rocky the coyote in his old enclosure at River Trail Nature Center. (Chicago Alliance for Animals)

The coyote’s new home is 10 times larger than his old one, but animal rights activists still want Rocky transferred to an animal sanctuary.

People dump everything, including the kitchen sink, in Cook County's forest preserves. (Courtesy of the Forest Preserve District of Cook County)
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Forest Preserve District officials presented a proposal to increase fines and to add a provision that would allow the district to collect restitution from people caught trashing the preserves.

(WTTW News)

It will be up to the next mayor to decide how to respond to Chicagoans’ growing frustration with these mega-events.

Orland Grassland, a thousand-acre restored prairie. (Patty Wetli / WTTW News)

“There are places you walk where you see sky touching the earth, and you can imagine this as the gateway to the Grand Prairie,” site steward Pat Hayes said of Orland Grassland.

Rocky the coyote in his enclosure at River Trail Nature Center. (Chicago Alliance for Animals)

With Valentine’s Day around the corner, animal rights advocates are asking the Cook County Forest Preserve District to have a heart and release “Rocky” the coyote.

(U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Midwest Region)

A GPS collar allowed researchers to track the wolf from Michigan all the way to Manitoba, Canada. That's just one of the wild stories we followed this week.

(WTTW News)

Nearly 70% of voters approved an additional .025% increase in property taxes, which would bring in $40 million dollars in new revenue annually to the preserves.